Japan is home to many famous car brands. Japanese car brands include Toyota, Nissan, and Honda. Japanese car brands are known for their quality and reliability. The car market is growing in Japan, and it is slowly becoming a popular car market in Asia and around the world. Japan is the second-largest car manufacturer in the world. Around 1 out of every 7 cars sold globally was manufactured in Japan.
To give you a clear insight into the Japanese automotive market, we have included a total of 17 car brands in the list of Japan-based car brands. In this list, there are some brands that are very active and popular in the international market, like Toyota, Honda, and Nissan. Then there are some others that are less popular outside of Japan but equally good in terms of quality and technology.
Without further ado, let’s get into the list of car companies based in Japan.
List of Popular Japanese Car Brands that are active Now:
- Mitsuoka Motos
- Ohta Jidosha
- Prince Motor Company
This article is divided into three sections; firstly, we have mentioned the brands that are very active in the market. Then, there are some brands that are not that popular, and lastly, we have included the brands that are not present nowadays, yet they did an incredible job in bringing up the automotive sector in Japan.
Popular car brands in Japan:
This list contains the most popular Japan-based car brands.
Officially founded by Kiichiro Toyoda in 1937, Toyota is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of automobiles. He made the first car, the Toyota AA. More cars followed, and Toyota became very successful.
They make many different things, including trucks, buses, forklifts, planes, hovercrafts, motorcycles, and computer chips. The company has always made its engines for its cars.
Lately, Toyota has started to become popular. Toyota now sells its newest models online and through dealerships all over America. They are known for being reliable, affordable, fuel-efficient, and an overall great choice for drivers looking to buy a new or used car. They began selling cars to American consumers in the mid-90s, and now they are one of the most popular brands, with over 10 million vehicles sold each year.
Toyota has been known for making cars with great fuel efficiency. Later, Toyota introduced a new type of car called a Hybrid, which is an electric/gasoline combination. This makes it very fuel-efficient and helps the environment by using less gas to drive around in town or on the interstate.
The Camry, the Corolla, the Prius are all examples of cars made by this company. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Prius, the Camry, and the Highlander the “Top Safety Pick” award in 2014 in the United States. The most recent addition to the technology is automated safety, the AHDA (Automated Highway Driving Assist), which was also developed by Toyota. This was all about Toyota, now let’s go to the next car brand in our list of Japanese car companies: Lexus.
Eiji Toyoda launched Lexus in 1989. Lexus is an expensive car. It has high-quality parts and does not break easily. Some Lexus cars cost more than $100k, but most of them cost between $50k and $70k.
Toyoda worked for various automobile companies. Then he left to start Lexus on his own. Lexus started producing vehicles in 1989. It had only 80 employees at first. It built about 8,800 vehicles annually at that time.
The goal was to build high-quality cars without spending as much as people would normally spend on cars of that quality.
Lexus vehicles are known for having a high-quality look and feel. Rather than being cheaply made, Lexus vehicles are made with exceptional quality. Lexus first started out producing passenger cars, and then it expanded to other types of vehicles like trucks, motorcycles, and sports bikes.
Lexus produces various types of vehicles. The small ones are called IS. Mid-sized ones are ES and GS. Bigger ones are called LS. They are 2-door convertibles, Sport Utility Vehicles, hybrids, and the F marque line. The 2-door convertibles have an RC and an LC model. Convertibles that were once made include the SC and the IS model.
Sport Utility Vehicles range in size from small to large, with models including UX, NX, GX, LS, RC, and LX. Hybrids include CT hatchback and HS, which are discontinued now but used to be available too. There are also variants of IS models, which include ES models as well as GS models as well as LS models as well as RC models such as LC’s too.
Lexus first became a racing team in 1999. GS 400 race cars were entered in the Motorola Cup North American Street Stock Championship touring car series. Lexus has also entered the world of endurance racing. It has participated in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona also, which is approved by the Grand American Road Racing Association. Since 2004, when Lexus joined the Rolex Sports Car Series, it has taken home 15 Rolex Series race victories.
Lexus has expanded sales outside of the United States. Later, the division opened dealerships in Japan’s domestic market. It was the first Japanese premium automobile marque to do so. The brand has debuted in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Europe, and other areas. Now I hope you got clear insights about Lexus, now let’s move to the next Japanese car brand: Suzuki.
Suzuki Motor Corporation is a Japanese company with its headquarters in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka. In 1909 it came as a manufacturer of weaving looms and renamed itself “Suzuki” in 1934. The company started to manufacture motorcycles, automobiles, personal watercraft, and outboard motors. In 2011, it became the 10th largest automobile manufacturer in the world.
Suzuki has expanded overseas markets. In 2011, 38% of Suzuki’s total sales were from the Japanese home market, down from 64% in 2000. Suzuki had to do a long-term recall for auto defects. This led to losses, and so they were not able to compete against Honda and Toyota in the global market. Yet, their partnership with GM will put them into a strong position again soon.
Suzuki produces the Alto, which is one of Japan’s most popular cars and the third largest in sales. Alto used to make 90% of their cars for the Japanese market, but now they export 38% of them. India is their second-biggest customer after Vietnam.
Suzuki also has a strong collaboration with Maruti Suzuki – India’s largest car manufacturer. It followed the example of Holden and Toyota that jointly developed small cars for emerging markets. The year 2013 had over 166 000 employees and sold more than 20 million vehicles. In that year, it sold small cars for city driving such as the Wagon R+, mid-sized cars like the Alto 800, or big sedans like the Ciaz.
Suzuki automobiles sold cars in the United States from 1972 until 2008. Suzuki vehicles include small city cars like the Carry, midsize vehicles named Swift and Sidekick, and full-size trucks like the Samurai.
The company gave up on the hard market because it was not profitable when they considered their other markets. The American safety standards made exporting hard. As a result of withdrawing from America’s automobile market, Suzuki reduced its workforce by 10% later. That’s all we have for Suzuki, now let’s explore the next famous car company based in Japan: Mazda.
Mazda is a company based in Western Japan that specializes in the production of automobiles. The company began in 1920 and has been under Ford Motor Company since 1962. called Toyo Kogyo, it began as a supplier of steel tubes and bicycle parts. The company soon shifted to the automotive industry and was renamed Toyo Kogy in 1928.
The company introduced its first car, the A-Type (A is one Roman numeral), in 1931. It was modeled after Ford Motor Company’s Model B and sold at a price even lower than that of Ford’s Model A. The Japanese car company partnered with Ford later. This led to their creating of other divisions, such as Autozam, Efini, Eunos, and Xedos.
Mazda is one of the few car companies to have participated in world endurance racing. They competed in the Formula One World Championship in 1950. They also helped Volvo when their international program took off with the introduction of Group C rules in 1982. They won a second-place at the 24 Hours Nürburgring and a comparable result at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
There are many famous models of the Mazda car company. One of the most famous is the Mazda 5, introduced in 2006 and has since been featured in some US television ads.
Another popular model of Mazda is the MX-5, also known as the world’s best-selling roadster. The Mazda 3 introduced in 2000 was engineered using Ford Motor Company’s Focus as its inspiration. It has since been called one of the most tested vehicles by Automotive Magazine.
The Mazda car company is dedicated to protecting the environment by pursuing a variety of strategies. This company uses hydroelectric power to reduce its carbon footprint. It also used parts of cars with bio-degradable materials.
Mazda is also well-represented in the sports automobile category in Japan. The MX-5 model of this company has achieved “the world’s best-selling sports car” status, despite Top Gear recognizing it. The next Japanese car brand on our list is the famous Honda.
Honda is a multinational company that has been in the automotive industry for almost 50 years. Honda was founded by Soichiro Honda in 1948 and started as an aviation company. After World War II, Honda began to look at the automotive industry and released its first passenger car in 1963. It then went on to produce models such as the Civic, Accord, and new Cr-V models.
Honda currently has over 500k employees that work for the company worldwide. Out of 500K employees, about 80% are Japanese. Honda was an aviation company but later got into the automotive industry and was able to produce what we now know as the Honda Civic.
They also make engines and other parts for their products. This company makes engines for other companies too and wants to increase production. They do this by making joint ventures with other companies.
Some of Honda’s most popular models are the Accord, Civic, and the new Cr-V. Honda also produces a variety of motorcycles and scooters. Honda is a diversified producer, ranging from large work trucks to small motorcycles.
At the German Grand Prix in 1964, Honda made its Formula One debut. Richie Ginther signed to the team in 1965, and he scored Honda’s first point at the Belgian Grand Prix and his first win at the Mexican Grand Prix. The team’s first Formula 1 victory came in 1967. In 1968, Jo Schlesser was killed at the French Grand Prix in a Honda RA302. This racing incident was sad. The company had a hard time selling cars in the US. So they stopped going to races outside of the US. Thats all about Honda, now let’s learn some information about the Japanese Car brand Acura.
The word “Acura” is Latin for “excellence.” The Acura car company was founded by the Honda Motor Company in 1986. It has been providing excellence ever since it first started. The headquarters are situated in Tochigi, Japan. They have been doing business as a luxury vehicle maker since 1990.
Acura offers cars including the Integra sedan, Legend coupe, NSX sports car, RL sedan, TL sedan, and TSX Sports Wagon. These vehicles have been a huge success in the United States and Canada, so Acura has expanded its business to reach out to these markets. Yet, it was not always smooth sailing for the company. In 2007, Acura lost $80 million US dollars due to recalls from faulty engines that resulted in fires.
The RL sedan is one of the most luxurious cars, according to MSN Autos. In January 2015, it was introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It has a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive. It is designed with four doors and is available in three colors: black, silver, and grey. The company plans to release an exciting new sports sedan soon that will be released in December 2015.
Acura started racing in America many years ago. They raced with the Sports Car Club of America and IMSA GT Championship series. Acura agreed to use the V6 motor from Comptech Racing starting in 1991. The Acura NSX was the first production car to use Super Precision All-Wheel Steering. It debuted on a prototype version of the Comptech Camel Lights Spice. The Lights title was claimed by Acura in its debut year, as well as a class victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Acura and Comptech won the title for the Lights championship two years in a row and also won another time for the Daytona class. They also won the 12 Hours of Sebring race.
Mitsubishi is a multinational company. They make things related to heavy industries, including the automotive industry. They are headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Iwasaki Yataro founded the company in 1970 and became one of the largest corporations in Japan. In the ’70s, Mitsubishi was a successful company in Japan. Their airplane models were popular worldwide, and they had a high market share in some industries.
Mitsubishi is one of the major players in automobile manufacturing in Japan, with a market share of about 20%. In Mexico, Mitsubishi has a market share of 1%, and in Brazil, they have a market share of 7%. Mitsubishi is also present in the US, where their market share in 2008 was 1.3%.
The company’s history was very difficult. There were problems with some of the vehicles, and this led to a significant loss of money. Even though newer models like the Lancer and the Outlander were able to make Mitsubishi a popular car brand.
The Mitsubishi Montero is one of their most iconic car models and is the best-selling SUV in Mexico and Brazil. The Montero was produced from 1988 to 2000. Another iconic car of the Mitsubishi company is the Outlander, which was introduced in 2003 and has had more than 1 million units sold since then. Pajero is currently one of the world’s most famous SUVs produced by Mitsubishi. It is competing with Toyota’s Land Cruiser and Nissan’s Patrol.
Nissan is a multinational automaker with its headquarters in Minato, Tokyo, Japan. It was established as a car company in 1933 by Masujiro Hashimoto. One of Nissan Motor’s subsidiaries is Nissan North America Inc. This Japanese brand has headquarters in Yokohama, Japan.
In 2001, Renault acquired a controlling stake in the company. In 2016, Renault introduced a new 5% shareholding agreement where it can increase its share.
Nissan was one of the major automobile producers that produced vehicles for the Empire of Japan during World War II. “Nissan” means “Japan’s south,” referring to the company’s origin in southern Japan.
Nissan Motor Corporation also produces and sells cars under the Nissan, Infiniti, and Datsun brands. Some of the models include the Altima, Maxima, Murano, Juke, Leaf, Rogue, Pathfinder.
Nissan’s electric vehicles include the Nissan Leaf and the Nissan e-NV200. The company has received awards that include: “Green Car of the Year in 2011” and “World Green Car in 2013 and 2014.”
Nissan has announced that it will release several driverless cars in the upcoming days. The company will be building an area to test the cars in Japan in 2014. Nissan installed its car technology into a Nissan Leaf electric car for testing purposes. They demonstrated at the Nissan 360 event held in California in August 2013.
These were some famous Japanese car companies, now let’s explore other brands from Japan.
Other Japanese car brands:
The Infiniti car brand company is a famous Japanese manufacturer of automobiles. It was founded in 1989 by Nissan Motor Company. It establishes its headquarters in Hong Kong. The company produces premium cars with innovative technologies, creating the vehicle of the future.
The official emblem of Infiniti is a simple stylized letter Q, which represents both the first letter of the name “Infiniti” and the infinity loop. Kenji Shiraishi designed the logo. Infiniti marque’s slogan is “Moving Forward.”
It has a range of cars, which are new and intuitive, with innovative technologies. The Q30 is the smallest model of the company. The Q60 is its flagship model that costs between 1 lakh rupees to 1.8 crore rupees, including taxes. It was launched in 2016.
The company offers many models, including the QX50 sport utility vehicle, G25 luxury sedan, Qx56, Qx4. The Infiniti sedan and coupe are built on the Nissan FM platform. The engine’s center is behind the front wheels. Nissan makes two models of cars: the QX80 full-size SUV and the QX60 crossover. The QX80 uses the Nissan F-Alpha platform, and the QX60 uses the Nissan D platform.
Infiniti car company participates in major motorsports events. The world’s most famous and prestigious event is Formula One or F1. Infiniti has sponsored the GP2 GS Motor Sport Series and the IndyCar Series. It has also been the sole engine supplier for ALMS GT1. The company has had success in some of these competitions, such as at Le Mans 24 Hours, where Infiniti Red Bull Racing won its first victory.
Infiniti has many plans for its future creations. It is also working towards the realization of its vision to become the world’s leading luxury brand company.
Isuzu is one of the oldest Japanese automobile manufacturers. It was founded in 1916 by Isuzu Jidōsha Kabushiki-Kaisha. The company manufactures cars and trucks. It has been selling automobiles, accessories, parts, and petrol and diesel engines for 90+ years. It was before known as Chiyoda. The brand is mainly producing commercial vehicles. It also has a few best-selling SUVs and sports cars.
Some of the best-selling models of Isuzu include Axiom, D-MAX, Elf, Terra Trekker, and MUX. The company also sells sports cars like the Kabuto and engine parts like pistons and camshafts.
It has a worldwide presence and is the 4th largest automotive manufacturer in Japan. In 2015, it produced more than 1.2 million vehicles.
General Motors partnered with the Isuzu car brand company in 2004. Later, Isuzu bought the truck operations of General Motors for $1.9 billion. Isuzu also produces commercial vehicles like the Isuzu D-MAX and Terra Trekker for General Motors International.
The future of the Isuzu car company is uncertain. It has been involved in the Japanese automotive industry for a long time and is currently competing with Toyota and Nissan to find a market niche.
Daihatsu is a car company that was founded in 1907 and has been headquartered in Osaka, Japan. The company belongs to the Toyota Group. The company is popular for its cars. They make a lot of small cars and Japanese off-road cars. The company was originally called Hatsudoki Seizo, but later, in 1951, it was renamed Daihatsu.
Daihatsu has been in business for over one hundred years, producing many different types of cars. One of its earlier cars is the S30, shown above. It was a three-wheeled scooter that was created in 1936 and used by Japan’s military during World War II. The S30 proved to be effective due to its high off-road capabilities. Civilians could also purchase it.
In 1978, Daihatsu launched another car called the M-YACK, a combination of both a truck and van into one vehicle. The M-Yack had an extremely durable frame and could tackle any terrain without breaking down.
As it is a part of the Toyota group, some models are recreated as the same model of Toyota cars. There have also been rumors that the car company may resume production in the near future. That’s what we have for Daihatsu Group.
Scion is a part of Toyota Motor Corporation. The company was founded in 2002, and it markets a line of cars that are smaller and less expensive than other Toyota vehicles. Scion’s marketing strategy focuses on targeting 20- to 40-year-old first-time car buyers who want a stylish but practical vehicle.
In 2010 Toyota Motor Corporation ended their contract with Target stores for the Scion cars. The reason behind the ending of this contract is that there were too many complaints about pricing and quality control issues, which ultimately gave negative media coverage to the Scion brand company. Toyota Motor Corporation then decided that it was appropriate to end their contract.
The Scion cars are small and practical, which is why they are so popular. Some of their most famous models include the xB, tC, xD, and iQ. The Scion cars are known for having “unique” exterior designs, which is also a major marketing strategy.
For people who may be interested in the Scion brand, there are a variety of reasons as to why they should try using one of these vehicles. Many consumers have claimed that their first experience with the Scion line was overwhelmingly positive and would recommend this.
Subaru is an automobile manufacturer. The company was started in 1953. It was a joint venture between Nihon Seiroku Kogyo, Fuji Heavy Industries. It later merged as Nissan Motor Company in 1966.
Subaru has been around since 1914. They started by making aircraft engines under the company Nakajima Aircraft Company. The larger Nissan-Renault Alliance still controls both companies. After inventing all-wheel drive, Subaru introduced the BRZ in 2012. It is rear-wheel drive with the engine above the axle.
The name means ‘Unite’ or ‘unite with heaven.’ It is the name for the Pleiades cluster in the constellation Taurus. The Subaru logo is also known as The Pleiades or Seven Sisters (cataloged as M45), an open star cluster in the constellation Taurus.
The company’s most popular models include the Subaru Forester, Subaru Outback, and Subaru Impreza. Other models by the company include the Subaru Crosstrek, Subaru Legacy, and Subaru BRZ. People know Subaru for their rally cars and turbocharged versions of their best-selling passenger vehicles. For example, the Legacy 2.5 GT is a turbocharged version of their best-selling car in this class.
Mitsuoka Motors is a small automobile manufacturer headquartered in Toyama, Japan. Established by Akio Mitsuoka in 1968, this company was originally named Mitsuoka Seisakusho Ltd. It was renamed Mitsuoka Motors Co., Ltd. on June 1, 1970. The first cars were introduced to the market in the early 1970s, and new models are currently under development.
Mitsuoka was incorporated in 1996, becoming the 10th Japanese company to do so since Honda started. It sources its present vehicles from Nissan and other Japanese automakers.
In 2015, Mitsuoka Motor was introduced to the UK by T W White & Sons. It debuted at the London Motor Show in 2016 with the Mitsuoka Roadster (Himiko).
Mitsuoka Motors has sold over 2 million vehicles. Some of the cars are the Delica, Mirage, and the Mitsuoka Roadster. Mitsuoka Motors sells the same cars as Mitsubishi Motors. But all of them are of different versions.
Mitsuoka Motors specializes in producing sedans. The firm also makes buses and coaches. They make sports cars, too. The retro-classic TD2000, the most popular roadster in Japan, is also built by Mitsuoka Motors. Mitsuoka Motor has achieved some great popularity in its time.
That’s a few other active brands from Japan. Now, let’s explore the brands that are not that active but played a very crucial role in bringing up the automotive sector in Japan.
Non-active Car manufacturing companies in Japan:
Ohta-Jidosha was a Japanese automobile manufacturer founded in 1922. Hiro Ota has started the Ohta Jidosha company. He had a background in engineering and manufacturing cars. In the 1930s, Ohta Jidosha was one of Japan’s most important automobile manufacturing corporations.
It was initially known as Kosoku Kilan Kogyo in 1935. When it introduced the OHTA Model in 1947, its name changed to that of the company itself.
In 1922, the company made a prototype. The car was called the Ohta Model OS. The production started in 1934. The car had an engine that was 736 cc and a 4-cylinder. A Model OC was made by Ohta in 1936, and it was produced between 1937 and 1939. The company made a car called Model PA after World War II. It was often used as a taxi. The company also made other models such as Model OE and PK-1.
In the company’s early years, they were successful in manufacturing and exporting automobiles to Europe and America.
After a monopoly scandal in 1957, the Japanese government nationalized its assets. Following this, Ota Jidosha dismissed its production and announced themselves as closed in 1957. Thats all we know about Ohta Jidosha, now let’s know something about Prince Motor Company.
Prince Motor Company
Two different companies, Tachikawa and Nakajima, created The Prince Motor Company. Prince Jidōsha Kōgyō, formerly known as Kabushiki-gaisha, founded the company in 1947. Its headquarters is situated in Suginami, Tokyo, Japan.
It expanded into automobiles in 1946, which produced an electric vehicle named Tama for the Headquarters area utilizing the Ohta series PC/PD platform. Prince changed its name to honor Prince Akihito in 1952 because of a formal ceremony. In 1954 they changed their name back to Fuji Precision Industries, and then again in 1961 to Prince Motor Company.
It is famous for building automobiles. The most famous car lines of the company were Skyline and Gloria. They also built the 15-passenger Homy, which converted with the Nissan Caravan and the Nissan Laurel, a four-door sedan platform-mate with the Skyline.
In 1966, the company was combined with Nissan. As a result, the firm’s name has no value, and it has started working under the name Nissan. I hope you got a clear insight of Prince Motor Company, now let’s talk about Gorham Car brand.
Gorham is one of the famous Japanese companies founded in 1915 by William R.Gorham. The golden era of this company ended in 1922. The company headquarters is in Suginami, Tokyo, Japan.
The firm has only ever offered one vehicle throughout its history. The firm could not manage the challenges of large-scale production and later on closed the services.
It is also one of those companies which merged with Nissan. That’s all we have about Gorham car brand.
Now, I hope you have got a clear insight into the Japanese car brands and the car manufacturing sector. We have also included a small description of the car brands, which will help you know more about the brand. If you are a car enthusiast, then you might have heard about the various car brands mentioned in this article before. But, I am pretty sure there must be some car manufacturing companies based in Japan that you must not know about.
If you do know of any car manufacturing company based in Japan that is not included in this article of car companies based in Japan, then let us know about it by using the comment box below. And if you have got valuable insights about the Japanese car brands, then don’t forget to share them with us.